Chapter One: Scary Stories
My local bookstore puts out a seasonally-specific selection of books every month or so, and they had some fantastic ones for October.
Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express // The Demon of Brownsville Road, a true Pittsburgh haunting story // We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by the amazing Shirley Jackson
Chapter Two: Plant TLC
My plants have been in a mood lately. Buddies who were doing well started not doing so well, and some buddies just weren’t doing well no matter what I did. But this week they got some TLC and some attention as I remembered the seasons are (finally) changing as the weather cools and grays here in Pittsburgh.
As you can see above, my African violet got pruned as it entered senescence. The leaves look good and healthy, and as I was giving them their weekly watering I realized that the underside of the leaves are this creepily beautiful pale pink, almost like new skin! Appropriate for spooky season.
My prayer plant, knock wood, has been doing very well. I recently put up new drapes that let even less light into the window near this dude, so I’m extra careful to make sure I leave the drapes open so she gets the proper amount of light. I also turned her this week because she was starting to grow really crookedly; that tendency to grow in the direction of light, my friends, is called phototropism and is one of the things that got me into biology in the first place.
Another plant made moody, perhaps by the change in weather, perhaps by my mood, perhaps by whatever, is my bamboo.
It was time for a new home for the bamboo, so I took my best friend’s advice and am growing it in water now with rocks. I pruned back some of the yellowing foliage and treated it for spider mites, which I believe it somehow got despite (1) being nowhere near my parlor palm and (2) no other plants in the house having gotten infested. It’s looking slightly better already in it’s new home – it may be ‘lucky bamboo,’ but it needs us to wish it luck for now!
My celery, which was looking a little down the last few weeks, really perked up the last couple days. This little dude really reminded me that freaking out when a plant starts to not do as well isn’t the answer – the answer is care, attention, and patience. I continued to monitor the celery and give it the regular waterings it always gets, now supplimented with weekly fertilizer and pruning as needed. Leaf color improved and he even grew taller! I’m happy to see that he’s happy.
And last but not least in this plant update, we have my parlor palm who was suffering from a spider mite infestation. Although spiders are very appropriate for Halloween, they and their mite amici are not appropriate for plant health. But, as you can see, the weekly neem oil treatment and careful watering/feeding schedule I’ve been applying seems to be working and Adora there looks better! Plus, peep the seasonal skull lights.
Chapter Three: Costume Crafting
A couple years ago I went out to a bar that had a costume contest and I didn’t participate, and the prize was a free helicopter ride. Then COVID hit, and this is the first year I’ve had a chance to compete since, so I went all out.
I didn’t win, but that’s alright. Yeah I’m disappointed but I had a great time putting this together! And wearing balloons in my hair was honestly a lot of fun. And I appreciate every compliment I got on the costume. The night at the bar was fantastic, too.
Chapter Four: Party Planning
Part One: The Entertainment
The plan was to play this awesome pirate-themed murder mystery game – we had so much fun just hanging out with each other we didn’t play! But, the group is working on plans to have a nice Sunday-afternoon-over-coffee Murder Mystery party, so all is not lost.
Part Two: The Snacks
Screamin’ Sweet Cream Cheese Dip
Here’s the recipe I adapted this from. Thanks, pinterest.
This is a throwback treat that my friend’s parents used to make for Halloween parties. I added my own twist and did chocolate pudding as a base instead of vanilla, because it’s objectively better.
The Classic Cookies
the good ol’ Pillsbury quick cookies
Part Three: The Decorations
Part Four: Last but not Least, The Drinks
A Shot of Vodka
I’m super proud of this one. I just ordered a bunch of 10 mL needle-less syringes (you know, for getting your cats to take their medicine) and filled them with red-dyed vodka. You’d have to take more than 4 for it to be a total shot, but taking them was fun so why not? Definitely appropriate for the year, too.
Chapter Five: Spirits
I do believe every year at Halloween my spirits👻 are lifted; I have to say this year they’re really high. I’m over drama (unless it’s watching someone else’s). I’m just being me, being honest, and vibin’. I wish the same for y’all.
Part of what I love about Halloween (besides making and wearing costumes, weirdly-themed food, and food-dyed alcohol) is the giving and the giving in to primal emotions and basic dopamine-driven rewards. I mean: we give out candy and celebrate fear, right? Most of the year, lots of us fear fear. But something about crisp air and turning leaves makes me not afraid to be on the swings at night, to dress ridiculously, to eat candy and pudding and enjoy – or, maybe, not unafraid, just willing to acknowledge the fear and live anyway.
I hope you all had a wonderful and frightful Hallo-week.